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Cat Nail Caps: What Are The Pros & Cons?

If your cat loves sharpening their claws on your favorite rug or chair, you’d be forgiven for getting a little frustrated. Remember that your cat is NOT scratching to annoy you – he’s just being a cat. Scratching is part of a cat’s instinctive behavior and not something they can stop doing. However, there are ways to decrease the amount of damage your cat does when scratching.

While declawing used to be a relatively popular procedure, it’s starting to fall out of favor because it’s a pretty invasive surgery for your cat. The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives for you to consider. In this article, we’re going to take a look at one of those: nail caps.

What Are Cat Nail Caps?

cat with blue nail caps
Image Credit: Ekaterina Karetkina, Shutterstock

Cat nail caps are small pieces of flexible plastic that fit over your cat’s nails.

They can be made of a variety of materials including vinyl resin, rubber, or PVC. Any material used for nail caps should be non-toxic to make sure your cat doesn’t suffer from an allergic reaction.

Nail caps use glue to stick firmly to your cat’s claws – meaning they’ll last as long as it takes for your cat’s nails to grow. This means that a set of nail caps should last around 4 – 6 weeks if applied correctly.

Now we know more about exactly what cat nail caps are and when it would be a good idea to use them, let’s consider the good and not-so-good things about them.

  • Prevent your cat from scratching furniture
  • Don’t affect your cat’s normal nail growth
  • Your cat can still retract their nails
  • Available in a range of sizes
  • Made from soft and flexible materials
  • Easy to apply

Cat Nail Caps Pros

White cat
Image credit: White cat by Daga_Roszkowskwa, Pixabay

The main benefit of using nail caps for your cat is that they’re going to prevent your cat from damaging your furniture, or from scratching members of your family.

If you have younger members of the family who can’t always read your cat’s body language, they’re more likely to get scratched if your cat feels like they can’t get away.

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Proper Application Is Important

Nail caps won’t stop your cat from retracting their nails, as long as you apply them properly. This means your cat should be able to walk naturally on all surfaces. Nail caps are made from soft and flexible materials so they should be comfortable for your cat to wear once they’ve got used to them.

Cat nail caps are easy to apply – although it may take you a few times to get the hang of it. You need to add a little of the adhesive (which is usually supplied with the nail caps) to the inner of the cap and then place the nail cap over your cat’s claw.

Some nail cap sets come with an applicator – which holds the cap in place and makes it easier to attach to your cat’s claw.

A Period Of Adjustment

Most cats adjust very well to wearing nail caps. Bear in mind that some cats take a while to get used to the new sensation… so although the nail caps shouldn’t affect their movement – you may notice your cat walking a little strange as they adjust!

From a purely aesthetic point of view – nail caps come in a wide range of colors. This means you can have a bit of fun choosing what color your cat can wear. Some packs of nail caps include various colors so you can mix and match. We’ve even seen sparkly or glow in the dark versions!

Of course, they also come in neutral or transparent options if you’d prefer a more natural look.

They’re also available in sizes from small to extra-large – suitable for kittens up to Maine Coons. Most fully-grown domestic cats of average size will usually fit a size medium. Make sure you check the size guide of each manufacturer though as they can vary.

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Cat Nail Caps Cons

Now we’ll take a look at some of the bad things about nail caps. Some of these might not worry you at all and others might be a deal-breaker. But by having all the information at hand you can make the best decision for you and your cat.

Some Cats Never Get Used To Them

As we mentioned briefly before – some cats can take a while to adjust to the feeling of wearing nail caps. So be prepared to see them walking slightly strangely as they adjust to the new sensation. Many cats will soon be back to normal, but others might not. We once had a feral rescue cat who never got used to wearing them no matter how many times we tried.

Some cats may also try to bite off the nail caps the first time you apply them. We recommend distracting your cat after the initial application by playing with them or offering them some of their favorite treats. Soon enough your cat will most likely stop trying to remove the caps.

Replacing The Caps

You will need to replace the nail caps as your cat’s claws grow longer. While this isn’t exactly a bad thing, it does mean you need to be prepared and have more in stock. Most cat nail caps are sold in multi-packs which should last you between 2-4 applications depending if you’re applying them to all four paws or just the front feet.

Cats should be kept inside if they’re wearing nail caps, as they won’t be able to climb trees or defend themselves properly if attacked.

If you have multiple cats, make sure you use nail caps on all of them.

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Hopefully, you’ve now got a better idea of whether or not nail caps will be a good solution for you and your cat. For some families, they’re the perfect solution and can help to re-establish harmony in your household.

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Featured Image: amfXZ, Pixabay